The Balearic service sector is to take industrial action over the next two months, disrupting the peak of an already bleak season. Crunch talks between regional CCOO and UGT union leaders and service sector management representatives broke down yesterday evening with the unions calling eight days of industrial action. Unions were pushing for a six per cent pay rise for some 60'000 service sector employees, but union bosses said last night that the management representatives were clearly unprepared to negotiate and deal, “leaving us with no alternative but to take strike action.” The first two days of industrial action will be on July 26 and 27 and followed up on August 5, 6, 7 and then 16, 17, 18. Service sector bosses said they are prepared to agree to a pay rise in line with inflation, which in the Balearics is currently riding at just under four per cent, but the current crisis gripping the tourist sector, caused by the slump in tourism, is making it financially inviable for management to agree to a six per cent pay rise. Earlier in the day, Balearic leader Francesc Antich called on both sides in the pay dispute to use all “their power and sensitivity” to reach a satisfactory solution so that strike action can be avoided. “We're reaching peak season and a strike will just add to the tension in the sector,” Antich said. But, Antich appeared to side with service sector workers, which would not have helped the negotiations. The Balearic leader said that employees in the service sector “work a lot of hours in a very short period, so I think they need to be properly understood, at the end of the day for many years, it is they who have propped up the region's wealth.” The wave of strikes will cause widespread disruption, but, according to the Association of British Travel Agents, will not ruin people's holidays to the Balearics. However, in the worst scenarios, tourists could face having to make their own beds with no room service or chambermaids, and possibly cooking for themselves, to avoid having to spend money on meals already paid for in the holiday they booked, with no hot meals and minimum services in hotels. Hotels are required by law to provide minimum services - but for many holidaymakers, the law will provide little satisfaction. Secretary General for Tourism Juan José Güemes claimed yesterday that last month's general strike did not harm Spain's tourism image - with regards to the Balearics, June 20 was just another black mark and the service sector strike will soil the region's image further.

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